Thursday, April 26, 2007

El Periódico reports that a gentleman named Antonio Martínez, truck driver by profession, was arrested on the morning of April 7 in the town of Mont-roig del Camp after police noticed him weaving. He blew 0.53, more than three times the legal limit of 0.15. Officers testified that he smelled of alcohol, could not walk a straight line, and could not speak clearly.

So far, so good. This happens everywhere all the time.

Mr. Martinez was transporting 14 tanks of propane and 70 tanks of butane on his truck when arrested.

Whoa. This is a bit unusual. I still suppose it could happen just about anywhere but a Germanic country or some place like Singapore.

He told the court that he normally had two drinks with breakfast, two drinks with lunch, and "four or five" beers after work, and that the day of his arrest he had been drinking between 4 and 6 AM before beginning work. Mr. Martínez has been arrested six times and convicted twice for drunk driving; the second conviction occurred April 4, only three days before his arrest in Mont-roig.

It's getting worse. Getting regularly hammered at 4 AM before transporting explosive gas in a truck would be rather unusual even in, say, southeastern Oklahoma.

Mr. Martínez did not actually lose his drivers license until his second conviction. In this case, the prosecutor is asking for a six-month jail sentence, which he will actually have to serve as it will be a third conviction, along with a license suspension of 3 1/2 years and an €6500 fine. Mr. Martínez's lawyer is asking for him to be acquitted on the ground that he is an alcoholic, which under Spanish law is an extenuating circumstance; the lawyer has also asked that Mr. Martínez, should he be convicted, be sent to rehab instead of jail.

Either of the two punishments would be extremely lenient anywhere else in the First World, but I'm still willing to admit that something of the sort just might happen in, say, Italy or Greece.

However, Mr. Martínez rejected the possibility of rehab and said he would prefer to go to jail, thereby surprising his own lawyer, when he told the court, "I am not an alcoholic and therefore I don't think I should submit to a rehab program." He added that he was not drunk, but rather "en condiciones," on the day of his arrest, and as evidence stated that he had already delivered 13 tanks on the morning of April 7. Mr. Martínez further declared that he "had been driving for 15 years and never had an accident," and that "I don't have a problem with alcohol. My hands don't tremble."

Only in Spain.

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